The courthouse was the first courthouse west of the Rocky Mountains. The building housed a sheriff’s office and three jail cells on the first floor and a courtroom upstairs, entered only by the outside staircase. It was located at 3rd and Court Streets where the present City Hall now stands. This small courthouse was used as a public meeting place, church services, as well as the seat of law for the county.
The old west was a wild place, and the Wasco County Courthouse was the site of legal justice and punishment for transgressors. The jail was, however, escapable and the need for better security was one of the reasons that the county sheriffs promoted the construction of a new jail facility.
You can see some of the devices used to constrain prisoners inside the courthouse. We often hear about leg shackles and the ball and chain, but getting a close-up view of these old devices makes a chill run down your spine.